"I have particular memories of being transfixed by the displays of gemstones and wanting to return to them upon each visit."
Artist Shayna Miller on planting as artmaking.
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Great artists make artists. And to prove that point, over 70 of today's greatest have contributed their work in support of Children's Museum of the Arts' Emergency Arts Education Fund, establishing utterly ambitious art programs in New York City schools that need them most.
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Below, meet auction artist Shayna Miller.
Shayna as a young artist
Do you have a favorite memory of making art as a child?
I always remember wanting to make things whenever I could. I remember building bird houses each summer and painting them at an arboretum where I also got to learn how to grow vegetables. Maybe I am still trying to solve the same problem of how to paint a sculpture. Planting also feels very related to making for me.
When did you first know you were going to be an artist?
There was not a defining moment. I was always making things. I didn’t know what it meant for an artist to maintain a studio and show their work until I was studying at my undergraduate institution and was working with faculty who were artists. Even though I was always taking art classes as a child, I did not realize that was something that I could actually pursue.
Can you describe a formative experience visiting a museum or gallery?
I remember frequently visiting a small, local museum near where I grew up in Northern New Jersey. I have particular memories of being transfixed by the displays of gemstones and wanting to return to them upon each visit. It is interesting to think back on this because I am interested in what appears as unnatural color that can indeed be found in nature. Later on, they installed a permanent exhibition of a large collection of historical mechanical / musical automata. As objects, the automata are strange, theatrical, and unwieldy, often taking on the form of a human body that performs an action like playing an instrument or writing.
Recently, I have been thinking about a scene from the film Night at the Museum where Ben Stiller pulls a pitchfork out of Grant Wood’s American Gothic painting. There is some sort of conversation between a painting that starts to move and gains an additional function and the automata.
oil on canvas over shaped panel